Protesters worldwide rally for Iranian opposition
People in more than 80 countries demonstrated against Tehran's crackdown over disputed elections in an 'Iran Global Day of Action.'
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Protesters around the world have taken to the streets as part of a three-day global event to display solidarity with Iranian opposition groups. Following the disputed presidential election on June 12, the hardline government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has continued to crack down on dissenters.
People in more than 80 countries participated in the demonstrations, dubbed the "Iran Global Day of Action." Major humanitarian groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, came out in support. Protests ranged in size from a couple hundred to several thousand people and took place everywhere from San Francisco to South Korea.
While most protests inside Iran have tapered off, political tensions remain high. Opposition leaders have refused to accept the election results, which they say are fraudulent. At least 20 people have died in protests inside Iran and more than 1,000 have been arrested so far. Journalists, human rights activists, and reformist leaders have also been detained reports Agence France-Presse.
One of the event's organizers told Al Jazeera that hundreds of opposition supporters have been imprisoned without the due process of law. Organizers hope the event will force Iran to display greater transparency and provide detained people with their basic human rights.
"Our message is very simple," [Aaron Rhodes, an event organizer] said. "We're supporting civil and human rights in Iran and we're calling upon the government in Iran to cease their abuse of power, cease the imprisonment of innocent people and the torture of detainees and stop the violence against people who are simply trying to exercise their internationally protected human right to peacefully protest."
In Germany, demonstrations were held in more than half a dozen locations and drew a wide array of people, from the left and right, reports Deutsche Welle. One protester in Berlin told the German news agency it was the first time he'd attended a demonstration since the fall of the Berlin wall.
"This goes beyond the political," [Juergen Schilling, a resident of Berlin and protestor] told Deutsche Welle afterwards. "This is really about letting humanity - compassion for your fellow citizens - be felt and lived."
In Montreal, as in many other cities, a number of those protesting were of Iranian origin, many of whom still have strong ties to Iran. At least one Canadian-Iranian protestor had a friend who he said was severely beaten by the police while protesting in Iran. In addition to Montreal's nearly 500 protesters, 20 people went on a hunger strike from Friday morning until Saturday night, reports The Montreal Gazette.
In San Francisco, thousands of people turned out to the city's Civic Center Plaza as part of the "Day of Action" and were joined by city officials. Ross Mirkarimi, the city supervisor and first Iranian-American to be elected to the city's government, told those gathered that it was a "historic" day, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Combined with other gatherings around the globe, Mr. Mirkarimi said this type of citizen diplomacy helped end the cold war and that "a turning point has been made."